Have you ever looked around your apartment and thought to yourself, “Wow, this looks like my freshman year dorm room”? OK, that’s an extreme case, but it takes a lot of years — your entire 20s, maybe — to settle into a space that feels totally grown-up yet still reflects your personal style. There’s a time and a place for funky wall tapestries, band posters, and fast furniture, but they’re just not sustainable for the long-term. Here are some smart and cheap ways to make your apartment feel more adult.
1. Frame Your Artwork — Nothing says high school bedroom quite like posters taped directly to the wall or corkboards layered with a mess of photos from the last decade. Then again, nothing says first apartment quite like cheap frames. Do your space a favor and give your art, photos, and mementos a proper home with some quality-made frames. When you’re a true-blue grown-up — let’s not jump the gun — you might even consider professional framing services. While you’re at it, try to curb your interest in canvas wall art; it’s so pervasive that it’s starting to look cheap.
2. Up Your Host(ess) Game — There’s no better time to show off how much of a mature adult you are than when your friends — or, bless you, your parents —come over. Make sure they feel totally welcome with proper dinner plates and silverware. You don’t have to go overboard, just make sure that you have enough for a crowd and you don’t need to reach for your secret stash of paper plates. You could even take things a step further and set the table! (Oh yeah, you’re gonna need a proper dining set, too.)
3. Dress Your Windows — Even a set of cheap blinds can be a serious upgrade in the window treatment department, especially if your apartment’s window coverings are old, dingy or nonexistent. They make your space look more grown-up and allow you to customize the amount of light you let in for some effortless ambiance. If you want to take things a step further, some classy roller shades will seriously up the ante! The best part about this is that you also get extra privacy and light control with the right window treatments.
4. Upgrade Your Finishes — You know you’ve made it when you walk into an apartment tour and think to yourself, “These cabinets could use some fresh, new hardware.” But changing the little things — drawer pulls and knobs, towel racks, the toilet paper holder — will show your attention to detail and love for the little things, which totally screams sophistication. If you’re 100 percent committed, you can even swap out old or basic doorknobs and light switch plates for a decorative finish that matches your new décor.
5. Get a Bed Frame — At one time or another, we’ve all slept on a mattress and box spring stacked directly onto the floor or (gasp) set up on one of those super-cheap metal bed frames from Amazon. If you’re still rocking this setup, make the bedroom your priority and get the bed off the ground with a proper bed frame, maybe even one with a headboard. You might even consider investing in a whole bedroom set that will travel with you through adulthood.
6. Go for Adult Color Schemes — Adulting is hard, and the last thing you want to do is make it boring. But you’ve got to do it tastefully to set yourself apart in the color category. Instead of sticking to one color — which can become a disaster fast, like in the case of this entirely pink house that you can rent on Airbnb — dial back the bright, nontraditional tones and use them as accents.
7. Keep Your Patterns Chill — On the same token, it’s not a bad idea to do a tie-dye or chevron purge as you’re making the transition from basic to grown up. But don’t take it totally in the other direction — you don’t have to go full-blown toile or tartan just yet. We love fresh yet adult patterns like ikat, floral and nautical prints. If you can’t live without the leopard or zebra — we’re right there with you, by the way — limit yourself to throw pillows and smaller accents.
8. Think About Storage — The hallmark of any early-20s apartment is the cheap, plastic laundry basket, which is probably overflowing. And then there’s those MDF bookshelves and plastic storage bins you never got around to unpacking two apartments ago. Give your décor and personal items more stylish homes with high-quality storage baskets and real wood furniture. We all bought “fast furniture” in our 20s out of necessity, but a better idea is to buy quality furniture second-hand until you can afford brand-new.
9. Revamp Your Knickknacks — You want to fill your space with things that inspire you and make you feel happy, but consider that mass-produced and cheap décor items often edge you out of the adult décor realm. Instead, focus on the unique and special. Again, you’ll find things that fit the bill when you shop second-hand at thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.
10. Mount Your TV — One of the things that makes a space feel like it belongs to someone grown-up is permanency. As you get older, you’re less likely to be a transient, which means you’re more likely to put time and effort into the space where you live. A great way to signify that you’re in it to win it is to finally invest in some mounting hardware so you can get the TV off whatever piece of furniture is lying around and onto the wall.
The key to making your apartment feel more adult is to focus on the details, quality and practicality of the things around you. But it’s also important that you don’t lose your expressiveness while you’re at it! These tips will help you celebrate your unique personality while transitioning to a more grown-up space.
Kenneth Gordon serves as the Chief Marketing Officer for Factory Direct Blinds. Kenneth is responsible for overseeing the planning, development and execution of Factory Direct Blinds marketing and advertising initiatives. Before joining Factory Direct Blinds, Kenneth served 6 years in the United States Air Force as a Military Police Officer. Kenneth enjoys spending time with his two sons and beautiful wife Brittany when not working.